Monday, May 23, 2016

Dictatorship of Relativism or Lordship of Jesus Christ?

Perhaps we should be grateful that the choice for or against Jesus is becoming so painfully clear.  Christians can no longer play the all-too-comfortable game of compromise with the culture, unless they are willing to be complicit with the the forces of radical secularism and ultimately subservient to the hegemony of the day.

In 2005, on the eve of his election as pope, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger identified the new totalitarianism of our times by coining the phrase "dictatorship of relativism." Ratzinger's homily to the Cardinals gathered in conclave offered the following insight: “We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” Pope Francis would subsequently reaffirm the concern shortly after his election as pope in 2013, and he has frequently decried the spiritual poverty of the so-called developed world.

Under the dictatorship of relativism, illogical as it is, the only self-evident truth is that there are no self-evident truths. Absent truths which we recognize as self-evident, those who wield power quickly begin to dictate what is right and true--under the guise of "tolerance," of course:
  • "Life begins and ends when we say it does", and medical evidence about fetal development and viability or concerns about "brain dead" diagnoses will not be allowed into the discussion.
  • "Marriage is what we say it is", and children no longer need a mother and a father, despite overwhelming sociological evidence to the contrary.
  • "Freedom of conscience means what we say it means", and health care providers should no longer be free to follow their consciences, despite the fact that conscientious objection has been a fundamental part of the American experiment from the beginning.
  • "Reproductive rights apply only to those who agree with us", and the cost of contraception and abortion should be imposed on everyone (both domestically and internationally), despite the fact that there are serious ethical and existential concerns about both. 
  • "The human person exists in as many sexes as we choose to define", and those who acknowledge only male and female are close-minded, despite obvious physical and chromosomal evidence in their defense.
  • "Title IX means whatever we want it to mean", despite the clear intention and obvious language regarding equal educational opportunities for males and females. 
Blind faith in unreasonable claims is required--lest one be branded a bigot. Public funding is wielded like a weapon, and cultural bullies threaten the reputations and livelihoods of those who attempt to resist.  In addition, as Ratzinger had noted regarding this dictatorship, the ultimate good of the human person is reduced to pursuit of one's egotistical desires: If I want it, therefore I have a right to it; if I feel it, therefore I must act on it.

Is it any wonder that emptiness and meaninglessness haunt the culture in which we live?

Under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, on the other hand, there is an authentic respect for reality which is understood a gift that is meant to be received.  Faith is not blind, but is eminently reasonable.  And Trinitarian Love inspires the deeper the logic of the Christian way of life--it fosters self-giving, not taking, self-emptying, not consuming, self-sacrificing, not self-aggrandizing.

Among the many promises which the Lord Jesus makes and fulfills are the following:

  • Not to leave us orphans; He gives us his Father as our Father, and his Mother as our Mother.
  • Not to abandon us (or eliminate us) in our times of suffering; He promises to be with us always, and He takes up our crosses as part of his own redemptive suffering.
  • Not to allow us to be controlled by our own weaknesses and brokenness; He reveals that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.
  • Not to promote the manipulation of ourselves and others; He calls us to return to a primordial understanding of the human person, created male and female, in the very image and likeness of God.
  • Not to coerce our fidelity; He invites us to freely respond to the gift of his merciful love, and then to graft ourselves onto his new life.
Under this life-giving Lordship, the ultimate good of the human person is not subjected to the arbitrary whims of those wielding power.  Rather, it is friendship with the Lord himself, who transforms all of our desires and fulfills our deepest needs: "I no longer call you slaves...I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father" (Jn 15:15).

No wonder that the lives of all those who freely accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ are marked by a peace which surpasses all understanding and a joy which cannot be taken away.  Now more than ever, the world needs Christians to reach out to those oppressed by the dictatorship of relativism. In the face of efforts to silence and marginalize them, Christians must invite the culture itself to authentic liberation, which comes from the One who is the Way, and the Truth and the Life.

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the U.S., Pray for Us--

P.S. To promote Conscience Protection Act currently moving through Congress, please contact your U.S. Senators and House Representative:

P.P.S. For an official response from the U.S. Bishops regarding the Obama administration's "Guidance on Title IX" regarding transgender students, check out: